Compiled by Dr Stella Barrows, briefing report for Sonic Investigators (DRAFT, report compiled in haste, notes for further study by NISG team at end)
The Castle Mound, outside the Higgins Museum, Bedford, is a Sounding Space replete with great Historical significance. We gather from our advance party (and the manager of the Museum who alerted us – a gentleman who looks favorably on the cause of Sonic Geology) that the majority of sounds here are likely to be proto-historical. The Castle, built in the early 1100s by Henry I, was a large medieval structure, which played a prominent part in the First Baron’s War. The Castle’s final architectural iteration is somewhat uncertain, but in 1224, following a disagreement with the notorious Gascon mercenary, Sir Falkes de Breauté*, the castle was laid siege to. Around 2,700 soldiers fought a two-month long pitched battle and eventually, the castle was entirely demolished. It is testament to the fortitude of the people of Bedford that the site remains commemorated and flanked by swans. I particularly enjoyed the charming addition of the crenelated dustbins surrounding the site.
This Sounding Space is somewhat fittingly part of the ‘cultural quarter’ of the town. It is bordered by the Higgins Museum, a converted Brewery. It is rumored that the ghosts of revelers past can be divined within the walls here (NB. the result of possible conversational sonic activity?).
Nearby is located a museum devoted to the preacher John Bunyan (author of The Pilgrim’s Progress), The Panacea Society (a space dedicated to a highly religious sect of women) and The Polish Church, formerly known as St Cuthbert’s, which has been the site of worship since the eighth century (the current building was constructed in the mid 1800s and presented to the Polish community of Bedford in 1974). Bells ringing repeated changes (campanological sequences) would certainly have sounded from the tower, although a more thorough investigation should be made into the pitch of the bells in the present day. It is also close to Bedford's principal church, St Paul's (just off the A6) at the historic centre of the town. It is the Civic Church of the Borough of Bedford and County of Bedfordshire and has a tall, iconic spire one of the dominant features of the town.
The town is built on Oxford Clay, a porous sedimentary layer, which has proved to be acoustically rich. Sonic phenomena in the Bedford area are likely to have been generated by the movement of subterranean water and the sedimentation of sound within alluvial deposits. Bedford rests on The River Great Ouse, which runs near the sounding space, and provided invaluable trade links as barges could navigate from The Wash on the North Seas, right the way through to Bedford’s Town Centre. This enabled coal and other supplies to be transported by water and coal wharfs would have lined the banks of the river. One might surmise that if you had happened upon this site in the 1800s you would have been presented with a somewhat rowdy and avuncular scene.
PERCOLATED SONIC PHENOMENA:
Early investigations by NISG have detected an exciting range of percolated sonic phenomena that appear to have been generated during by clay diggers who worked by hand with narrow bladed spades to collect clay ready to be used in the summer months in order to make bricks.
Conversational phenomena Voices of workhouse labourers and foremen.
Melodic phenomena Singing and work-song refrains.
Ambient phenomena Water, tool sounds, hammers and picks, light industrial noise.
NOTE: Conversational, melodic and ambient sonic phenomena arising from percolation of this sound-activity have formed the basis of initial NISG explorations in this area. Echo type data derived from proto-historic battles has been detected by Ear Trumpet technology within the background sound profile of the Castle Mound Sounding Space.
NOTE: There is a large urban Park in Bedford, in close proximity to the Sounding Space retains many original features from its Victorian design and construction, including a cricket pavilion and bandstand which are both still in use.
NOTE: It is interesting to note that from 1941 to the end of WW2, the BBC’s daily service was broadcast from Bedford.
*the car manufacturer Vauxhall is named after the part of London bearing that name, which in turn is named after Sir Falkes de Breauté
HISTORICAL EVENTS REQUIRING FURTHER INVESTIGATION WITH POSSIBLE RELATION TO SONIC EMISSIONS:
Medieval Lime manufacture
The Panacea Society
Neolithic and Paleolithic flint remains
King Offa of Mercia (buried here, 796)
The American Band Leader, Glen Miller (?)